No, this story isn't about DeSean Jackson, who had a perfect homecoming with two touchdowns of 50-plus yards in Sunday's 32-27 victory over Washington.
It's about the player who unleashed those bombs, quarterback Carson Wentz. The quarterback was marvelous completing 28 of 39 pass attempts (72 percent completion rate) for 313 yards with three touchdowns (a fourth removed because the throw to Alshon Jeffery was behind the line of scrimmage, so it went as a run) and no interceptions for a 121.0 QB rating without turning the ball over. It was Wentz's first time playing in a season opener in two years. It was Wentz's first game since last December, after missing the run to the playoffs and two postseason contests with a back injury. It was Wentz's first game since signing the long-term contract extension that cemented his status as the franchise quarterback for years to come.
"First of all, it felt great," Wentz said. "It felt great to finally get out there. It was a long offseason with a lot of things going on, so to finally be out here in front of our fans, running out of the tunnel, it felt awesome. Obviously, it was a little bit slower start than we would have likes as a team, but it was good to see our resilience and how we stayed together, do what we do, and finish the ball game on that 19-play drive. It was a good day for us."
There were plenty of moments that evoked memories of the playmaker who took the league by storm and was on the verge of earning league MVP honors before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December 2017. Wentz was a stone-cold killer on third down against Washington, completing 12 of 13 attempts (in fact his first attempt on third down was the only incompletion) for 197 yards with three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns were the 50-plus-yard throws to Jackson, while the other was a dart in the red zone to Jeffery. He also moved the chains twice on third down by utilizing a quarterback sneak.
"There were a couple of times today we just wanted to get on the ball and see what they were doing coverage-wise, so that we could call it at the line," said Wentz, who showed extreme comfort in his fourth season of running the offense. "That's nice that we were able to communicate as effectively as we did and get us in the right calls to pick up some key third downs. It kind of simplifies the game for us and lets us go make plays."
Jackson running past the Washington secondary not once, but twice, will be what fans recall from Sunday's win. But on a third-and-7 in the fourth quarter, Wentz made his most impressive play of the game as he double-pumped in the pocket, rolled to his left, and threw sidearm across his body to a crossing Jeffery for a 16-yard gain to extend the drive.
"Third down and red zone is something we always work on," Wentz said. "A lot of teams give up on third-and-long and just take a screen. We're going to just take what is there sometimes, but we're going to try to push the ball down the field when we can and make plays. It was good to see that we were able to do that today."
Eagles fans waited quite some time to see a performance like this from Wentz. And in the age of instant gratification, it took another half of football before the offense was unleashing all of its potential on Washington as the Eagles scored 25 of the game's final 32 points. Wentz shed weight in the offseason, attributing his leaner physique to a new diet, shed the knee brace that limited him coming off the ACL injury last season, and shed some of the critics (at least for a week) who said that the Pro Bowl quarterback would not get back to that elite form from 2017.
"I felt great physically and mentally," Wentz said. "There was a lot of hard work over these last few weeks on gameplanning, and mentally I just felt really good with our plan. (Head coach Doug Pederson) did a good job of putting it together. Physically, I was feeling free being able to get rid of the knee brace and just go play ball. It's been a blessing, and I'm thankful for the way that recovery went."
Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' Week 1 matchup against Washington.